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Hypsibarbus vernayi (NORMAN, 1925)

SynonymsTop ↑

Barbus vernayi Norman, 1925; ? Barbodes daruphani luosuoensis Wu & Lin, in Wu, 1977


Hypsibarbus: from the Ancient Greek ὕψι (húpsi), and the generic name Barbus, presumably in allusion to the deep body shape in members of this genus.

vernayi: named in honour of Arthur S. Vernay (1877-1960), big game hunter, explorer, and American Museum of Natural History trustee, who helped collect the type series.


Order: Cypriniformes Family: Cyprinidae


Widespread in mainland Southeast Asia, including the Mekong basin in southern China, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam, the Dong Nai drainage in Vietnam, the Chao Phraya and Mae Klong systems in Thailand, and various smaller watersheds in southern Thailand and northern Peninsular Malaysia.

In the Mekong the Buyuan tributary system in Yunnan province China, appear to represent the upper extremity of its range, and the fish are known to feed and spawn there. There also exist records from other Mekong affluents, including the Xe Bang Fai and Nam Theun in Laos.

Type locality is ‘Thailand: Uthai Thani Province: Mae Wong River 40 and 53 miles east of Um Pang’.


Displays a preference for flowing water with abundant riparian vegetation, and does not occur in standing waters such as reservoirs or other man-made impoundments.

It is migratory on a seasonal basis, but it is unclear whether the entire population moves upriver to the same spawning sites, or subpopulations undertake shorter migrations.

Maximum Standard Length

The largest officially-recorded specimen measured 216 mm.

Aquarium SizeTop ↑

An aquarium with base dimensions of 240 ∗ 60 cm or equivalent should be the smallest considered.


Choice of décor is not as critical as water quality and the amount of open swimming-space provided.

However should you possess the means to provide and decorate a sufficiently-sized aquarium for long term care this species would look superb in a set-up designed to resemble a flowing river with a substrate of variably-sized rocks and gravel, some large water-worn boulders and driftwood branches.

Like many other species that hail from running waters it is likely to be intolerant of organic wastes and require spotless water with a high level of dissolved oxygen in order to thrive.

Water Conditions

Temperature: 20 – 26 °C

pH: 6.0 – 8.0

Hardness: 36 – 268 ppm


Wild fish are known to feed on shrimps and snails, suggesting a benthic foraging behaviour.

In the aquarium Hypsibarbus spp. are unproblematic feeders but should be offered a varied diet comprising live and frozen foods such as chironomid larvae (bloodworm), Daphnia, and Artemia along with good quality dried flakes, granules and plenty of vegetable matter.

Behaviour and CompatibilityTop ↑

Not aggressive unless space is confined, but may eat small fishes and molest slow-moving or timid fishes with its constant activity and vigorous feeding behaviour.

Hypsibarbus are schooling species that should ideally be maintained in groups of half a dozen or more individuals.

Sexual Dimorphism

Sexually mature females are likely to be deeper-bodied and may grow larger than males.



NotesTop ↑

H. vernayi is distinguished from congeners by the following combination of characters: robust body, not compressed; usually 4½ scale rows between lateral line and dorsal-fin origin; 8-12 rakers on first gill arch; 9-11 predorsal scales; 14 circumpeduncular scale rows; one scale row separating vent and anal-fin; <29 lateral line scales; 12-21 serrations on the spinous dorsal-fin ray; distance between distal serrae on posterior margin of last unbranched dorsal-fin ray similar to the width of their bases.

H. vernayi is very similar to H. wetmorei, but can be told apart by possessing yellow (vs. orange to red in H. wetmorei) pectoral, pelvic, and anal fins. It thus appears likely that yellow-finned fish marketed as H. wetmorei or ‘lemon fin barb’ in the ornamental trade are actually H. vernayi, with both species are available on a regular basis. The two share a broadly similar geographic distribution, so they may even be collected together.

Hypsibarbus species are valued food fishes throughout their range although most species arre thought to be in decline due to human activity, particularly damming of rivers and agriculture.

The genus is diagnosed as follows: two pairs of barbels; strongly serrated dorsal-fin spine; 8 branched pelvic-fin rays; skin of lower lip discontinuous with lower jaw, separated by a shallow groove; anal-fin base approximately 60% HL; scales with black margins resulting in reticulated appearance; fins often with extended falcate tips; anal and pelvic fins often brightly-coloured.


  1. Norman, J. R., 1925 - Annals and Magazine of Natural History (Series 9) v. 15 (no. 86): 315-316
    Two new cyprinoid fishes of the genus Barbus from Nyasaland and Siam.
  2. Kottelat, M., 2013 - Raffles Bulletin of Zoology Supplement 27: 1-663
    The fishes of the inland waters of southeast Asia: a catalogue and core bibiography of the fishes known to occur in freshwaters, mangroves and estuaries.
  3. Kottelat, M., 2001 - WHT Publications, Colombo: 1-198
    Fishes of Laos.
  4. Kottelat, M., 1998 - Ichthyological Exploration of Freshwaters: 1-128
    Fishes of the Nam Theun and Xe Bangfai basins, Laos, with diagnoses of twenty-two new species (Teleostei: Cyprinidae, Balitoridae, Cobitidae, Coiidae and Odontobutidae).
  5. Rainboth, W. J., 1996 - University of California Publications in Zoology v. 129: i-xiii + 1-199
    The taxonomy, systematics, and zoogeography of Hypsibarbus, a new genus of large barbs (Pisces, Cyprinidae) from the rivers of southeastern Asia.
  6. Rainboth, W. J., 1996 - FAO, Rome: 1-265
    FAO species identification field guide for fishery purposes.

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